When the UK government unveiled its report and action plan to level-up the UK, it got me thinking about the role that the media industry must play in bursting the "London Bubble".
Having been a part of the media industry for almost 30 years, I have worked with many smart, talented media practitioners, all of whom produce brilliant work for their clients.
I have seen a great deal of change in how we work, as you would expect, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the human that sits at the heart of the plan.
Power to the people
As a media planner you have great power, and, as is said, with great power comes great responsibility. We need to take that responsibility seriously - and this means "levelling-up" and considering life beyond the M25.
If we truly want to represent our clients to all four corners of the UK, then we need to really understand all those corners, all those communities that, at the moment, we often choose to ignore - perhaps because their view of the world doesn’t fit with ours, their politics are different, or they live somewhere we have never heard of.
In his book The Road to Somewhere, David Goodhart redefined the country into "Anywheres" and "Somewheres" tribes. The Anywheres have "portable, achieved identities", whereas the somewheres are far more rooted in a geographical identity - for example the Cornish Fisherman, the working class Geordie, or the Welsh Farmer.
We are largely an industry of Anywheres who never take enough time to understand the Somewheres. As a media planner, you should find this an uncomfortable place to be.
We often are blasé when we talk about the "London Bubble", only half acknowledging it and rarely doing anything about it.
But we need to. Living in an echo chamber of our own views and options, following those we agree with on social channels or those that represent versions of us will not allow us to represent our clients to the rich tapestry of communities and people that make up the UK.
Both diversity and inclusion, and purpose, quite rightly sit at the top of the agenda for many agencies. And long may they remain there.
However, in order for this to filter into client work and beyond the internal walls of the agency, we need to look at how we are supporting our planners.
Those planners who are already in place need to have that diversity of thought, knowledge and opinion that allows them to help their clients reach all the communities, all of the Somewheres.
As media practitioners, we constantly need to remind both ourselves and our teams that we are not real people.
What I mean is that we are not truly or fully representative of the entire country. We may have the data to give us actionable insights, but do we really know what makes the real people of the UK tick?
After all, your behaviour, thoughts, and opinions are rarely representative of an entire population. Until we level-up our industry to be more representative, we must all work to understand the real people of the UK for the sake of our clients and our own personal growth.
Escape the bubble
So, if you want to be part of this change, then my challenge to you is - watch that TV news channel you ordinarily wouldn’t and read that paper whose headline makes you cringe.
Then follow that person who looks at the world from a completely different angle on social media and speak to people who are not in your echo chamber.
Get out of the bubble – it’s a far more exciting place to be. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you might learn.
Who knows? It could change a good campaign into a great, award-winning one!